Tropical Cooling and the Onset of North American Glaciation

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Tropical Cooling and the Onset of North American Glaciation

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Title: Tropical Cooling and the Onset of North American Glaciation
Author: Molnar, Peter; Huybers, Peter

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Huybers, Peter and Peter Molnar. 2007. Tropical cooling and the onset of North American glaciation. Climate of the Past 3, no. 3: 549-557.
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Abstract: We offer a test of the idea that gradual cooling in the eastern tropical Pacific led to cooling of North America and the initiation of glaciation ~3 Myr ago. Using modern climate data we estimate how warming of the eastern tropical Pacific affects North American temperature and ice-ablation. Assuming that the modern relationship holds over the past millions of years, a ~4°C warmer eastern tropical Pacific between 3–5 Ma would increase ablation in northern North America by approximately two meters per year. By comparison, a similar estimate of the ablation response to variations in Earth's obliquity gives less than half the magnitude of the tropically-induced change. Considering that variations in Earth's obliquity appear sufficient to initiate glaciations between ~1–3 Ma, we infer that the warmer eastern equatorial Pacific prior to 3 Ma suffices to preclude glaciation.
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